I'm delighted to
greet you and I'm so pleased that we have this ministry of prayer
going on that originated in the Archdiocese, and now touches many people in
many parts of the country.
It really focuses on the power
of prayer. Our Scripture readings for this Sunday are very much
focused on that. In our gospel, we hear that Jesus instructs the apostles on
prayer. He follows that by the parable of the man who comes in the middle of
the night seeking some bread. His neighbor doesn't really want to help him,
but, to get rid of him he's going to get up and give him some bread. It's
one of the many instances where we see this perseverance. Jesus concludes by
saying, "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and it will
be opened." It could not be more perfect for what your ministry is, and the
persevering in prayer.
The first parish I was at, there was a young woman who
had just graduated from high school. She didn't go to college. She was
working. She was exceptional. She came to the rectory shortly after I was
ordained and asked for envelopes. This was not normal for 19 year old kids.
She became part of our young adults group. She felt called to the vocation
of Christian marriage, but there was only one problem. She never seemed to
meet the right guy. Her grandmother was a great woman of faith. In this
parish we had a shrine to the Infant of Prague. Her grandmother said, "You
should light candles, say prayers before the Infant of Prague. He's a
specialist in these matters." So the young woman did this faithfully for
many, many weeks.
One Friday night I remember her
coming to the rectory. She wanted her money back for all the candles
she had lit to the Infant of Prague. I didn't know much then, but I knew
enough to not give her money back.
I said, "What's the problem?" She said she had had
this job working for a legal office. She had gotten a good evaluation and a
raise just a month or so before. One of the partners, his wife or friend of
his wife, wanted to go back to work. She was low person on seniority, so she
lost her job.
I said, "We have these
adversities, but don't give up on the Infant of Prague." Within a
week she got a new job at an accounting firm. At this firm was a young man
who was from the same parish. They started dating and I had their marriage
not too long after that. It was easy to know what present to give them for
their wedding. They got an image of the Infant of Prague.
I think prayer is the one way in
which our Lord invites us, even though He doesn't need our advice; He
doesn't need our counsel. But, in the mystery of His economy of salvation,
He really allows Himself to be influenced—touched--by the prayers of His
people. This ministry, particularly, is something that I know pleases Our
Lord--this faithful prayer for the return of children and grandchildren and
other family members.
St Monica is a great example to
us of persevering prayer. When we think of all that St Augustine did,
(St Augustine is probably the person we priests read the most in our office
of reading) all that came out of his incredible ministry as a teacher of
faith. All of that was really the fruit of Monica's prayer. So we just
encourage you to be persevering in this prayer, and trust that even at times
when you don't see the immediate fruits of your prayer that you hope for,
that the lord is inviting you to go deeper into this persevering prayer.
He does hear. He does answer. He does, when we knock,
open the door.
It is good to be with you. I hope it is a great day
for you, a renewing day. Thank you for this ministry and thank you for
opening the door of hope to many parents, grandparents, and others who pray
and desire the return to the faith of their sons and daughters.
I see the fruit of this sometimes when I have
the privilege of talking to people who come back to the Faith. What a great
gift it is. Don't give up. Don't waiver. Thank you for your fidelity
and faithfulness. God bless.